From the Gotham Gazette:
The "Candy Hostel" on Manhattan's Upper West boasts of being New York City's "newest, sexiest, hippest and hottest boutique hostel." It offers amazingly cheap rates -- as low as $17 a night in a city where the average hotel charges $312 -- and only accepts payment in cash.
As alluring as that may be to tourists on a budget, the building, formally known as the Mount Royal, along with the nearby The Continental and Pennington are not as hospitable for long-time residents who call the single room occupancy buildings home.
For years, the owners of the three buildings -- ownership information remains murky as to who exactly they are -- have been renting out apartments to tourists, to make a greater profit than they can from the low-income tenants. The three, on 94th and 95th Streets, contain rent-stabilized apartments and are Single Room Occupancy buildings, or SROs where tenants typically share bathrooms and kitchens. The certificates of occupation for each building says that they are all Class A multiple dwellings, which means that they are classified as buildings for permanent residents.
Critics say that renting rooms out to tourists siphons away affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers. and the city regards such rentals as illegal. A recent statement by Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that such hotels "all too often create fire safety and security hazards and create quality of life concerns in residential neighborhood." This is because these residential buildings do not necessarily follow fire safety regulations that a legitimate hotel would have to follow.
The press release hailed bills in the state legislature that would help sharpen the definitions of transient and permanent occupancies, ambiguities that the building owners have taken advantage of to skirt the law. A bill also has been introduced in City Council.
Might I ask what the difference is between illegal hotels and illegal conversions in Bloomberg's mind? Why crack down on one type of firetrap but not the other?